CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Projects that Look Forward to Looking Back
Shannon McNally (photo by Sebastian Smith)
It’s the time when journalists of all stripes look back at the year that was. You can find lists of best albums, best concerts, best television shows, best movies, and best celebrity hairstyle if you are so inclined. I enjoy these retrospective articles, even — perhaps especially — in a year like 2020 where you have to work hard to find good where you can. But you won’t find a “best of” list here. Crowdfunding, by its very nature, is a forward-looking endeavor. Any list of “best” crowdfunding campaigns would be a week I couldn’t feature new projects in need of funding right now. But as a nod to the new year and its cusp of old and new, this week I picked projects that mix looking back and looking forward. One is a vinyl repress of an album from 2017. The other two are artists taking the sounds of their cultural past and making new songs with them.
Shannon McNally – Black Irish Vinyl Repress (click here to view project)
Shannon McNally has been making albums since the early 2000s, but it was her first album for Compass Records, Black Irish, in 2017 that brought her to the fore in the roots music community. Produced by Rodney Crowell, who also co-wrote the album’s lead single, “Banshee Moan,” and featuring Emmylou Harris, Black Irish was almost universally well-reviewed, including by No Depression‘s Maeri Ferguson. So why is McNally crowdfunding a 3-year-old album? Because the original run of vinyl is sold out and McNally is seeking to repress it in a limited red vinyl edition. She needs 50 copies of the album ordered to fund, but the entire run will be limited to 150 copies total. Because of the nature of this project, there aren’t a lot of backer perks. In addition to a signed copy of the vinyl release, you can also get a Black Irish T-shirt and a hand-written copy of the lyrics to “Banshee Moan.”
Briste – Debut Album (click here to view project)
Irish trio Briste had big plans for 2020. After six years of making their name in Ireland and the UK, as well as logging airtime on both BBC TV and radio, they decided it was the year to make their debut album. COVID-19, as it has done with so many things, decided it wasn’t. So now they’re crowdfunding their new album for 2021. While the album will be made up traditional Irish songs, it is guaranteed to contain the tinges of American folk and country music that have always given Briste a way to differentiate themselves from other traditional Irish musicians out there. They’ve already exceeded their $4,914 goal, but, like most artists, they’ve lost significant income in 2020 and any stretch funding will help offset the smaller costs of an album usually covered by gig income. Backer perks include the album on CD in signed or unsigned form, a Briste T-shirt, and a virtual private show.
Project Locrea – Debut Album (click here to view project)
There are plenty of projects out there that aim to combine the folk music traditions of two cultures into a new sound. Project Locrea, the brainchild of flutist Yana Nikol, goes beyond that, aiming to be a truly global band by bringing together the instruments and styles of multiple nations, often separated by vast distances and seemingly incompatible traditions, to send a message of global inclusiveness and combat the increasingly insular and nationalistic nature of the world. While the band has featured a rotating cast, the album’s lineup ranges from guitar, bass, and drum to Chinese dulcimer, Peruvian pipes, and vocals from Bulgaria and Ethiopia. The band is a third of the way to reaching its $8,000 Indiegogo goal. Backer perks include the album in digital or CD format, a Project Locrea T-shirt, two tickets to a future Project Locrea show, or a streaming concert.